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Wilson's Newer Views of learning:

Personality and learning Styles Materials


Notes on the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Variables


Drs. Bill and Lynn Kirby have recently retired from UW-SP's School of Education and have very generously allowed me to copy some of their materials on learning and personality styles so that these valuable resources remain active. Thank you Bill and Lynn.

The material below was synthesized and developed originally by Bill Kirby and revised, adapted, and posted with permission by Leslie Wilson

The order of the descriptions below follow the sequence and tradition of Myers-Briggs� personality profiles. The progression of individual 4 letter profiles indicates choices from oppositional variables in areas deemed "attitude" and "functions." Four letter combinations yield 16 types, or 16 sets, of preferences in areas representing: energizing, attending, deciding, and living. MBTI 16 profiles are as follows:

















EXTRAVERSION vs. INTROVERSION are "attitudes" and explain how we are energized, and how we prefer to relate to the world and others


SENSING vs. INTUITING describe oppositional "functions" and show how we prefer to attend, or take in information. (The N is used here because the I has already been used for introversion.)


THINKING vs. FEELING indicate are also "functions" and describe how we like to make decisions


JUDGMENT vs. PERCEPTION are "attitudes" that speak to our preferences in living, and how we organize our lives.

Please keep in mind that the descriptions below are the extremes of each variable. To some degree each of us is a mixture of all 8 elements, we certainly have the potential to use all 8 aspects. However, at some point in our lives, (usually in the early to late twenties) we develop decided preferences for one end of each set variables as opposed to the other.  


This set of "attitudes" relates to how people are energized and how we relate to the world and others.



Sociable - Extraverts are sociable and are generally energized through interactions with stimulating environments and others. They enjoy talking to people and being in a group and may dislike spending time alone. Extraverts literally take in energy from people and external stimuli and may need to spend time winding down after interactions before they can relax or sleep. Extraverts also think best outside themselves, they must "air" their ideas aloud, either through conversations with others or through audible self-talk.

Territorial - Introverts tend to prefer privacy, in both the mind, or in environment. Although they can be quite friendly and sociable, they may find these interactions and events exhausting. This aversion to high levels of external stimuli may cause them to want to leave a social event early, or even to be reluctant to attend. It is important for others to honor their needs for solitude and periods of quiet.

Expressive - Extraverts express most of their thoughts and feelings as they are having them. Sometimes they find out what they are thinking by hearing what they say. They need discussion with others to think best.

Quiet - Introverts are more likely to listen to others and develop their own ideas in silence and through reflection. They may only tell trusted people what they really think or feel.

Other - 

  • Extraverts tend to be aware of and react to outside stimuli in their field of vision or hearing.

  • Extraverts prefer breadth. 

  • Extraverts' attention is turned toward the outside world.

  • Extraverts will show their dominant "function" readily to others. 

Other - 

  • They tend to be more absorbed in their own thoughts and are less alert to outside stimuli.

  • Introverts are more attracted to depth.

  • In the beginning Introverts' attentions may be more focused on their internal states.

  • Introverts will hide or protect their dominant "function," sharing it with only those who are trusted.  This lack of disclosure is one of the primary differences between introverts and extraverts.


These "functions" relate mostly to how people prefer to attend, obtain, or take in information.




Practical - Sensors want to live in a world of facts. They are interested in history, past experiences, and the actual. Being grounded in what is natural to them; abstract notions are of little interest. Instead, they are drawn to things that are no-nonsense, factual and sensible.



Innovative - What might be or could be is of great interest to Intuitives. They are highly aware of what they imagine, and can find being too grounded in what is boring and stifling. Possibilities and speculation excite them. They are constantly thinking of �what if.�


Details - Sensors are interested in the details of things. They get great satisfaction from taking care of all the little things. They tend to focus on the trees and not the forest. 


Big picture - Intuitives see the big picture. Details are often missed or ignored, and can seem trivial. They are sometimes "absent-minded" since they tend to be more aware of their internal images than their sensory input. These are the people who can't remember where they parked their car because they were too busy thinking of their mission.  


Realistic - Sensors gather information mostly from what they see, smell, hear, feel, etc. If asked to describe a picture, they will tell the colors, the locations of things, and what is happening in it. They are in tune with the reality of the situations they find themselves in, in life.


Imaginative - Intuitives interpret what they see and believe their interpretations. If asked to describe a picture, they will tell you a little about the subject of the picture and then tell you what might happen next or something (imagined) about the relationships of people in the picture.


These "functions" describe to how people prefer to make decisions.




Logical - Thinkers base their decisions on rational thought and logic, and they tend to be objective. They like justice and standards. Thinkers tend to be more interested in ideas, and the reasoning behind decisions or concepts. For them, emotions are secondary, or passing, and of less importance. To Feelers, they may seem cold-hearted and remote.


Personal - Feelers' decisions are often based on "gut feelings." Their outlook is more subjective. They like harmony and often energized though appreciation and encouragement. For Feelers, emotion is more important than reasoning, rationality, or logical discourse. To Thinkers, they may seem soft-hearted and illogical. 


Emotional Responses - Thinkers are as likely as Feelers to experience emotions. However, they are less likely to show those emotions; in fact, emotional reactions can be embarrassing to them.


Emotional Responses - Feelers are more likely to wear their hearts on their sleeves. However, if this preference is combined with introversion they will not share their feelings openly.  

Notes on gender distributions � Within the historic data collected from the MBTI, the functions of thinking vs. feeling is the only variable that has shown a gender trend. About 60% of men reported they are Thinkers, while %60 of women reported they are Feelers.  These percentages fall into cultural stereotypes about males emphasizing thinking, and women feeling. However, as we move into a new century as gender lines and roles are becoming blurred, and gender roles less definitive in modern cultures it will be interesting to see if these statistics change.



These "attitudes" relate to preferences in living. In the MBTI they are indicators for whether we are more comfortable in gathering information, or more comfortable in making decisions. Indeed, it is this last letter preference that indicates which of the function (sensing, intuiting, thinking, or feeling) is our strongest preference.




Decision making - Judgers like plans, closure, well-defined deadlines and certainty. They like to know what to expect especially in time commitments and outcomes. They prefer to make decisions quickly, and are often uncomfortable with indecision or situations requiring some level of spontaneity. The advantage of this preference is that much can be accomplished, quickly. 



Decision making - Perceivers would rather postpone making a decision until they have gathered what they consider to be �enough� information. They are willing to wait and see what will turn up, and thus tolerate open-ended situations well. This can have the advantage of in that when things are done, they are done fully and completely. Some perceivers are so uncomfortable with decision making that they might continue to wonder if it was the right one for years after making it.


Goal oriented - Judgers may be more likely to have a plan and want to complete it. They can become impatient with interruptions or deviations from the path to their goals.


Laid back - Perceivers may be more likely to view life in a relaxed way. Since they tend to see things in terms of what needs to be done instead of a series of tasks with deadlines, they may be freer to simply live each moment as it is best lived. They may also become less stressed in chaotic situations.


Time orientation - Judgers like to know how long something is planned to take and they like it to take just that long, neither more nor less.  They usually believe that punctuality is an important virtue, one not to be slighted.  Judgers tend to literally know what time it is, without having to look at a clock.  They tend to know how long some period of time has been. They can be seen as driven by the clock by perceivers. The Judgers� time orientation is more acceptable in western, and especially American, culture.



Time orientation - Perceivers are willing to let a task take as long as necessary to do it well and are uncomfortable with having to watch a clock. As a result, they may lose track of time or not be able to estimate in advance how long a task will take. If they are late for something, they will be sorry, but surprised. The Perceivers� time orientation is more generally practiced in non-Western cultures. In some parts of the world, people might arrive around 5 o'clock for meetings scheduled for 3:00 PM and not be considered late.


Tolerance - A Judger may be more disturbed by things not going according to plan. They are more likely to be concerned with how something �should� be than allowing it to develop on its own. Their tolerance level is high for actions that might shorten the time something takes to be completed.


Tolerance - Because they tend to work to needs instead of deadlines, Perceivers may sometimes appear to be more tolerant. For instance, when working with stages of child or human development, Perceivers are less likely to decide the given individual is �late� and �should� be at the next stage NOW! Their expectations are more organic.


  • Please Understand Me II by Keirsey

  • Type Talk by Kroeger and Thuesen

  • Type Talk at Work by Kroeger and Thuesen

  • Gifts Differing by Myers-Briggs, I.

  • People types and tiger stripes by Lawerence, G

  • Understanding yourself and others: An introduction to temperament by Berens, L.V.

  • Dynamics of personality type: Understanding and applying Jung's cognitive processes by Berens, L.V.

adapted from the materials of William H. Kirby, original copyright, 1997


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